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The Decluttering Challenge of a Child's Bedroom - 22nd August 2016
Some years back I had a client who was adamant that I help organise her son's bedroom. This worried me a bit. The boy was at school and I had visions of him returning to find an orderly room that he would find far from pleasing.
In fact the opposite was true! This eleven year old wanted a tidy room, but his personal space had been swamped by his mother's clutter. After the session his mother reported back that her son loved his room and was better at doing his homework now he had a clear desk and some order. He had simply been overwhelmed by his situation.
It's a commonly held view that children are untidy by nature. I would say children are no different to adults in this respect. Some prefer to be organised and tidy, others less so.
The door can always be closed on the mess, so I would urge parents not to get too stressed if the child's room is a no-go zone. There does of course need to be some agreements regarding other areas of the house. Some responsibility. In other words, you accept an untidy bedroom but that mess must not spread to shared family areas. This is about respect on both sides.
If you do find yourself stressed about the state of your children's bedrooms you need to be honest with yourself first. Are you setting a good example? If not, then, perhaps rather harshly I would say, what can you expect? On the other hand, are you obsessively tidy? If so, then your children's untidiness may just be a reaction to this rigidity elsewhere in the home. It's a case of striking the happy medium and trying to be relaxed about it. Easily said, I know, and I'm not a parent - merely a practised observer!
Organisation for younger children
If your children are very young then it's good for them to have an organised bedroom for your own benefit as much as theirs. Initially you'll be the one locating and tidying things. However, don't miss the opportunity to get them involved with tidying as soon as possible. Buy storage items that small hands can manage. Things in bright colours that are within easy reach. If there are toys that require adult supervision, then these are the things to store out of reach, and probably best to also be out of sight!
I have found that The Great Little Trading Company has a range of storage solutions ideally suited to younger children. Take a look at their website for more ideas.
The bookcases on the left are easy access for small hands. A child can easily find a favourite storybook by recognising the pictures on the cover.
The image on the right is modular storage which can be as large or as small as space or budget dictate.
Too many toys?
At some point a toy decluttering session will become inevitable. Preferably before your home gets swamped! Mostly this is not such a challenge as you might think. Children want to be thought of as 'grown up' and heaven forbid that their friends might consider them to be 'babyish'. Ask your child outright - do you have any toys that are too babyish for you now? Dress it up however you like! You may well find it's you that is reluctant to part with toys your children have outgrown.
Former clients have given toys to various charities including nurseries their children once attended. Choose a destination that you and your child will feel good about. If you have enough for a car boot sale then use the lure of a pocket money top up as an additional incentive to part with stuff. One word of caution, don't press a distressed child to part with a toy even if you do consider it to be something they've outgrown. Equally, don't remove toys without telling your child. Trust will be lost.
Get homework organised
Homework comes to children at a young age these days. This requires a degree of planning and order. School can be a stressful place sometimes and with so much pressure to succeed your child needs a lot of support. One way to do this is to make sure they have somewhere appropriate to do their homework. Younger children will need supervision so this is best done in a family room. Older children will benefit from a desk in their own room.
Even when homework is being done with you downstairs I think it's a good idea to have a dedicated place to keep everything so it never gets lost. Rushing around at the last minute trying to find homework is not a good start to anyone's day and will leave your child feeling stressed and out of control. You can help them establish lifelong good habits by making sure books and other content are put away at the end of the homework session. No going off to play until that's done! Use brightly coloured folders and boxes to make it appealing. Involve them in writing labels and explain how it will help them. Choose their favourite colours and why not encourage them to decorate the folders with stickers? This will help them take ownership rather than it being a chore imposed by parents.
Help your young teenager manage their increased workload by planning the layout of their room and making changes where necessary. Is there room for a small desk? If not, could furniture be moved around to make space? Consider multi-function furniture. Is there a surplus piece of furniture that could be removed to make space? Always include them in plans. If they don't like it - they won't use it! This phase leading up to formal exams is an important one and I cannot over stress the importance of getting the environment right from the outset.
I'm happy to help if you need an alternative perspective.
Keywords: childrens bedrooms